Five Tips To Make Your Silent Auction Stand Out

Silent auctions are a fundraising event staple. I see them at just about every event (which means your guests are also seeing them everywhere). If a silent auction is a standard revenue generator for your event, here are my five tips to help make yours stand out in the crowd.

Make data-driven decisions
The reality is that a certain demographic attends your event. Which means that not anything and everything is going to appeal to your guests.

Think like a retailer
Think about some of the best merchandising you have seen; it draws you in and emotion takes over; you see yourself needing that item. The same can be said of silent auction items. You need to convince your guests that they need that item. So, think like a retailer – have great lighting, pretty packaging, and a dynamic presentation.

Less is more
More items do not translate into more revenue. What it does translate into is many items only have one lonely bid; leaving the perception that the auction wasn’t very successful.A good rule of thumb is one item for every four couples. If your event has 300 guests, you will want a maximum of 37 items.

Make bidding easy
You want to make things as easy as possible for your guests to bid often and bid high. You also want to make it easy for your check-out volunteers at the end of the night.To simplify things, have guests use bidder numbers with three digits instead of filling put their name and phone number. It reduces writing time and increases bidding time.Also make it easy for your guests in terms of what amount to bid. You want to be in control of the revenue, not your guests. So be sure to pre-populate your bid sheets aiming for fair market value in six to eight bids.

Experiences are in, products are out
Guests are looking for items that they can’t purchase on their own at the mall. It doesn’t necessarily have to be exotic, but it should be unusual. And flexible. The only exception to this point is maybe wine. Wine is always in.

There you have it: secure a select number of experiential items that are based on the interests of your guests, display the items in a way no one can resist and make it easy for people to bid, bid, bid. Follow these tips and you will inspire giving with your auction as the spark.

Want to learn more about the art, science and psychology to auction design? Check out my LayneWay learning opportunity on Auction Design here.